On International Women’s day, I wanted to share some thoughts with women colleagues, friends, and women just entering the workforce.
We often talk of how difficult it is for women to build their careers and also run the household and care for the family. And I agree with all the issues women share with me. But despite these challenges, some women have built very successful careers, and we have some incredible women leaders in Eurofins.
Over the past few days, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my boss, Natalia Shuman, and also engage with women leaders in Eurofins Bangalore. I have crystallized my discussions with them in these thoughts for women building their careers.
A) Don’t chase a mirage: Family – Work life balance doesnt exist. One discussion was about trying to balance work – home which is a challenge for most women. Natalia spoke about the concept of “blend” as against balance. In balance you are trying to find time for both work and home but always feel that you are short changing one of the two. Instead, think of life as a blend, and there will be times and situations where you are focused on your kids / family, but then there will be days when your priorities and time is focused on work. Once you accept this, you are able to do both. Balance is an over rated idea.
B) Stop feeling guilty: very often, women live in guilt that if they are spending time at work, then family suffers, and when focused on the family, work suffers. Throw away this guilt. Men don’t have this guilt ever, even though they are making similar choices. Why should women ? This guilt can become a barrier to being your best in either roles
C) Control your own calendar: There will be ocassions when you have to make trade offs in your work, in your time allocation. Don’t keep seeking permission to make these trade offs. For example, women returning from maternity leave will speak to their boss and request if they could travel less for a few months. Will men returning from sick leave ask ? No. Men will simply reduce their travel. By asking the boss, women are reinforcing the wrong belief that they are not equal.
D) You have nothing to prove : a lot of women are working with the desire that they have to prove something, to yourself, to your family, friends, etc. By carrying the baggage that you need to prove something, you are inside yourself admitting that you are not equal. Don’t live with that sense of low confidence. Be confident about yourself. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone, not even to yourself.
E) Step up : often I see women are hesitant to take on larger roles, additional responsibilities because of the fear of how will they ‘balance’ priorities. The risk of not doing well in a larger role is a risk that is equal for both men and women. But men often put up their hand and take a chance. Women often don’t. As you think of advancing your career, be confident in asking for more …larger roles, enhanced responsibilities. And once you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate in asking for support. There is no need to be perfect. Just do your best
As a woman, to be successful, in some ways you have to work like a man ! But blend that with the empathy and emotional intelligence that women often bring more of to the table.
Be the wowman. Be yourself.
Happy International Women’s Day